How to Let Go of Bitter, Angry Feelings toward Your Ex

Being hurt by someone you’ve loved and trusted feels like the ultimate betrayal. You are angry. You are resentful. And you may have a very good reason for feeling this way.

But allowing yourself to remain an emotional hostage to your hurt will keep you from moving forward. Eventually, you will need to let the anger go and embrace the healing process so you can move on and enjoy your life.

Are you bitter and angry at your ex-spouse?

Who does your bitterness and anger hurt? You, of course. These feelings are self-consuming, and nobody knows this better than you. 

Although it’s natural to feel angry after a betrayal or another type of hurt, letting it fester into bitterness takes away your power. While you have every right to feel your feelings, eventually, you will have to let that anger go. This is for the sake of your own health and well-being.

How can you do this? It requires some serious effort on your part.

Letting anger and bitterness out

After a serious heartbreak, anger is a valid feeling that needs to be felt. Even so, keeping yourself in a loop of rumination about everything that happened, over and over, is unhealthy. It continuously fuels more anger. It keeps you stuck in that anxious state of fight-or-flight.

If you can learn to identify your anger when it happens, self-soothe, and change your inner chatter, eventually, you can direct your attention away from the anger so you can heal and move on.

Try redirecting your attention and cutting off your anger’s fuel source. This takes away some of its power. Here are some tips.

  • Stay in the present. If you forbid yourself from staying stuck in a loop of past anger, it will start to release its hold on you. 
  • Pay attention to how you’re breathing. Stress makes us breathe quickly and shallowly. Meditation is one way to pay attention to the breath. Box breathing – breathing in for a count of four, holding for a count of four, exhaling for a count of four, and holding again for a count of four – repeated several times can help your body let go of the stress you’re carrying in the moment.
  • Visualize what you do want. Visualization is a way to train your attention to focus on the positive instead of the negative. Several apps, like Calm and Headspace, offer guided meditations and music for calm and focus.
  • Move. We know that any physical exercise alleviates anxiousness in the body. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown workout. You may get just as much benefit from a slow, mindful walk in a natural area. 
  • Create a ritual for yourself. Sometimes, a small ceremony is a good way to release something that seems to be stuck when other things can’t. Put your ex’s name and anything about them that you need to release on a piece of paper. Tear the paper and throw away the pieces. This is symbolic of the person and the negativity they caused, and it clears the way for new beginnings. 
  • Get professional help. Sometimes, the adrenaline of anger is too difficult to kick without help. It’s hard to talk yourself down off a ledge if your body’s stress hormones keep you up there. 

Read about 101 little things you can do to take care of yourself here.


Letting anger and bitterness go 

While letting your anger out can loosen its hold on you, letting it go can finally set you free. 

Take ownership

While it’s always easier to place the blame on the other person after a relationship breakdown, it is never just one person’s fault. Take ownership of any part that was yours, and try to understand it from the other person's perspective.

Channel your anger into something positive

Create something meaningful. Motivate yourself to do something healthy and powerful. Focus on what really matters. 

Create better boundaries

Use this experience as a learning tool to help yourself create better boundaries. The healthier your boundaries are, the less likely you will fall victim to the repeated bad behavior of others in the future.

Find forgiveness

Forgiveness is not absolution. It’s freedom. Not for your ex; for you. You might feel your former spouse doesn’t deserve forgiveness. That’s okay. They don’t have to know about it. But it can set you free. 

Physical activity can play a big role in divorce recovery. Read 10 Ways to Heal Your Emotional Trauma with Exercise.

Why is it so hard for me to forgive my ex?

Holding on to resentment and bitterness is sometimes easier than simple forgiveness. Something keeps you hanging on to your anger, whether it’s a broken heart or unresolved feelings of anger. This can make it hard to muster the will or desire to forgive.

The reasons you tell yourself? You might believe, deep down, that forgiving them is like condoning their behavior. Here is your reminder that forgiveness is not admitting it was okay. It’s releasing yourself from the hold of it. In fact, it has little to do with the grievance and more to do with the love you extend to yourself through the act of forgiveness.

You might believe your ex does not deserve your forgiveness. No, they may never “deserve” it. But you do.

You may not be ready to forgive. Getting over a betrayal is a process. You will be ready when you’re ready. Give yourself a good dose of self-compassion, and permit yourself to take your forgiveness journey at your own pace.

For the sake of your own mental health, let your negative thoughts go. The past hurts, but the future – when you are willing to look beyond the injustices life has handed you – is bright.

Will this anger be gone for good?

It all depends on what “for good” means to you. Chances are, your resentment and anger will flare up occasionally – sometimes out of the blue. But the more time that goes by, the easier it will be. 

Letting go of bitter, angry feelings takes time. A day will come when you realize you haven’t thought about your ex for a very long time. When your ex no longer holds an emotional charge for you, you can give yourself a self-congratulatory hug. But by that time, you may not necessarily need the hug because you’ll probably be busy creating the life you were meant to live. 

Divorce is not just a legal process. It is an emotionally life-changing process. Hello Divorce is an online divorce platform that recognizes that individuals need more than just legal services when they are considering divorce. 

We offer a broad scope of other associated services for people going through divorce, including divorce coaching. We have a vast library of resources to help you through this overwhelming time, too. Have questions? Schedule a free 15-minute consultation to learn how we can help. 

Divorce Content Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Mental Health
Candice is a former paralegal and has spent the last 16 years in the digital landscape, writing website content, blog posts, and articles for the legal industry. Now, at Hello Divorce, she is helping demystify the complex legal and emotional world of divorce. Away from the keyboard, she’s a devoted wife, mom, and grandmother to two awesome granddaughters who are already forces to be reckoned with. Based in Florida, she’s an avid traveler, painter, ceramic artist, and self-avowed bookish nerd.